Romans Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. Everyone is to obey the governing authorities. For there is no authority that is not from God, and the existing authorities have been placed where they are by God.
2. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities is resisting what God has instituted; and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3. For rulers are no terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you like to be unafraid of the person in authority? Then simply do what is good, and you will win his approval;
4. for he is God’s servant, there for your benefit. But if you do what is wrong, be afraid! Because it is not for nothing that he holds the power of the sword; for he is God’s servant, there as an avenger to punish wrongdoers.
5. Another reason to obey, besides fear of punishment, is for the sake of conscience.
6. This is also why you pay taxes; for the authorities are God’s public officials, constantly attending to these duties.
7. Pay everyone what he is owed: if you owe the tax-collector, pay your taxes; if you owe the revenue-collector, pay revenue; if you owe someone respect, pay him respect; if you owe someone honor, pay him honor.
Having discussed believers' relationships with each other and with nonbelievers (12:4-21), Sha'ul naturally turns to how they should relate to the chief external institution, the state (see also 1 Ke 2:13-17). His advice, which can be seen as an application of 12:21, corresponds to Judaism's "Dina dimalkuta dina" Aramaic for 'The law of the kingdom is Law," Torah to be obeyed as if God had commanded it (see Mt 22:21N).
Does this mean that believers should obey the wicked laws of an evil government — the Nazis, the Communists, other totalitarian regimes? No, because this rule does not stand by itself in Scripture; it must be set against Ac 5:29 ("We must obey God, not men") when the will of the state and the will of God conflict (see v. 7N). The early Christians refused to offer incense to statues of the Roman emperor because such idolatry would have been disobedience to God; they paid with their lives. Jews too have been martyred 'al kiddush haShem ("for the sake of sanctifying the Name" of God; see Ac 7:59-60N) when they refused conversion to a Christianity which was incapable of communicating either its truth or its Jewishness. with the result that Jews perceived it as idolatry. The implications of Scripture for civil disobedience in the modern sense — that is, for a moral cause, presumably also a selfless one — deserves attention that cannot be given here.
7 Compare Mt 22:21 (KJV), "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Richard Wurmbrand, a Jewish believer in Yeshua who was imprisoned and tortured for his faith for fourteen years in Communist Romania, says that what such an evil government should be rendered is a hard kick in the pants. But, he adds, the officials of that government should be loved, since they are created in God's image, the Messiah loves them, and we are to imitate the Messiah (1С 11:1). (His ministry consists in smuggling Bibles into countries that restrict their production, import or use — a good example of obeying God rather than man.)
8. Don’t owe anyone anything — except to love one another; for whoever loves his fellow human being has fulfilled Torah.
9. For the commandments, "Don’t commit adultery,” “Don’t murder,” “Don’t steal,” “Don’t covet (Exodus 20:13–14(17), Deuteronomy 5:17–18(21)), and any others are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Romans 13:9 Leviticus 19:18).
10. Love does not do harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fullness of Torah.
Yeshua said that all the Torah and the Prophets depend on two commandments — loving God, as commanded in the Sh 'ma (Deuteronomy 6:5), and loving one's neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18); see Mk 12:28-34&NN. Sha'ul quotes four of the five commandments in the "Second Table" of the Law, those which concern behavior toward other people; Yeshua did the same (Mt 19:16-20). Rabbi Chiyya equated Leviticus 19:18 with one of the "Second Table" commandments, the prohibition against coveting (Leviticus Rabbah 24:5); likewise Rabbi Akiva recognized Leviticus 19:18 as a great principle of Torah (Genesis Rabbah 24:7). Sha'ul's point in these verses is not to abrogate specific commands but to show that the principle of loving one's neighbor, which is the pervading theme of everything from 12:9 till here, must underlie all halakhic applications and will, when appropriated by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh. lead to right behavior in daily life. This is how love is the fullness of Torah— not by superseding it, but through being the beginning, the end and the motivating force at work in it. (See also Ga 5:14N.)
The discussion over whether Messianic Jews should keep the Law (see Ac 21:2IN and Messianic Jewish Manifesto, Chapter V, entitled "Torah") must consider these verses. On the one hand. Jewish critics say that feeling love is no guarantee of right action, so that halakhic rules for specific situations are necessary. Without them, they say» people will abuse the principle of love by ignoring precedents and even God's specific commands on the ground that love has "replaced" them, and this will ultimately lead to disobeying the command to love as well! As "Exhibit A" these critics point to the notable lack of love of Christians toward Jews at various times in the last two thousand years.
On the other hand, certain Christian theologians, especially those who follow Lutheran tradition, such as Helmut Thielicke and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, will have nothing to do with specific guidelines. They fear these could "quench the Spirit" (1 Th 5:19), reducing obedience to mere rule-following, legalistic "works of law" that cannot save (3:28; 3:20aN).
Messianic Jews live with that tension. But so do Gentile Christians, and likewise non-Messianic Jews. For even the most orthodox Jew, even one who, for the sake of argument, knows every halakhic decision ever made, would, as a practical matter, have to reach his own conclusions as to what the Law requires of him, at least in boundary-line situations; and if, at such moments, he is not operating in love, his decisions will be wrong. Conversely, an approach which disregards legal rules and precedents guarantees a lower standard of ethical action, since each individual will have to "reinvent the wheel" as he rediscovers for himself accumulated wisdom and expertise.
I think the best position avoids both the wooden application of law and the unreliability of subjective love-feelings. It combines the sensitivity of Spirit-inspired love (which is more than a mere feeling; it implies loving action) with respect for ethical instruction, halakhah and other law, seeking to draw from the full complement of God-given human and supernatural resources the right and loving responses in all circumstances.
Moreover, the supposed conflict between traditional Jewish doctrine and New Testament is sometimes illusory. Consider Sifre to Deuteronomy 79b (4th century С. Е.), which asks why Deuteronomy 11:13 (the verse commencing the second paragraph of the Sh 'ma) includes the phrase, "to love Adonai your God": "It is because you might otherwise say, 'Look, 1 learn Toruh in order to get rich,' or '...in order to be called "Rabbi,"' or '...in order toearn a salary.' But Scripture says,'.. .to love Adonai your God.' In other words, all that you do should be done only out of love."
11. Besides all this, you know at what point of history we stand; so it is high time for you to rouse yourselves from sleep; for the final deliverance is nearer than when we first came to trust.
The urgency of the historical moment makes right behavior all the more important. Jewish writings of the period too regarded the final deliverance as imminent:
"In those days the Elect One will arise and choose the righteous and holy from among them, because the day for their being saved has come near." (Enoch 51:1b-2)
"For truly my redemption has drawn near; it is not far distant as it was before." (2 Baruch 23:7)
12. The night is almost over, the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and arm ourselves with the weapons of light.
13. Let us live properly, as people do in the daytime — not partying and getting drunk, not engaging in sexual immorality and other excesses, not quarrelling and being jealous.
Night and day, also darkness and light, as metaphors for evil and good are found in the Gospel of Yochanan (see Yn 8:12&N), in the Tanakh (for example, Isaiah 60:lff), and in the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Essenes, who separated themselves from what they considered the decadent and immoral life fostered by the establishment Judaism of their time. In addition, day and daytime are metaphors for the 'olam haba, the age to come.
14. Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Yeshua the Messiah; and don’t waste your time thinking about how to provide for the sinful desires of your old nature.
Clothe yourselves with the Lord Yeshua. Compare Isaiah 61:10:
"I will greatly rejoice in Adonai; my soul will be joyful in my God.
"For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with a robe of righteousness."
The Hebrew word for "salvation" in this passage is "yesha'," related to "Yeshua," which also means "salvation." Compare Rv 19:8.
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